Peter M. Vitousek, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Professor of Biological Sciences
Stanford University
Department of Biology
City, State, Zip
Stanford, California 94305
Award Year


Project Details

Vitousek's Pew Fellowship goal was to integrate biological approaches and concerns into the ongoing international global change debate. Under his Pew Fellowship, he demonstrated that it is possible to move from population processes to ecosystem patterns to global change and conducted advocacy and outreach by the public and to the public and to policymakers. Vitousek worked specifically on three projects in Hawaii in relation to the Fellowship: (1) studies and evaluations of biological invasion by exotic grasses and their ecosystem and global consequences; (2) an analysis of the effects of biological diversity on ecosystem function (a study developed by David Hooper) and (3) communication with the public on global environmental change.


Peter Vitousek has been a faculty member at Stanford University since 1984. Currently, he is an Associate Professor and Professor of Biological Sciences as well as Clifford G. Morrison Professor of Population and Resource Studies. He has devoted his career to studying the earth's metabolism and life cycles, zeroing in on how the intricate machinery of its forests is altered by people and the introduction of new plants and animals.

Born in Honolulu, Vitousek performs his field research primarily in Hawaii and is a notable researcher on Hawai'ian ecosystems. His thinking, however, is global, linking biodiversity conservation concerns with the functioning of ecosystems and, ultimately, with the workings of the biosphere. He directs Stanford's Vitousek Lab, which is at the forefront of research on biological diversity. It focuses on studying nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems as well as the effects of invasions by exotic species. Vitousek has authored and contributed to well over 200 published research studies, book chapters and monographs.


Vitousek Lab, Stanford University



Ph.D., Dartmouth College
1975: Biological Sciences, New Hampshire, USA

Bachelor of Arts, Amherst College
1971: Political Science, Massachusetts, USA


OTS Research Advisory Committee

International Geosphere-Biosphere Program, coordinating panel on terrestrial ecosystems

International Geosphere-Biosphere Program, working group on effects of biomass burning


Scientific Reviewing
2006: National Academy of Sciences

Marsh Ecology Book Award
2005: British Ecological Society

Tansley Lecturer
2005: British Ecological Society

America's Best Ecologist
2002: Time/CNN

Princeton Environmental Prize
2002: Princeton University

1994: American Association for the Advancement of Science

1994: California Academy of Sciences

R.H. MacArthur Award
1993: Ecological Society of America

1993: American Academy of Arts and Sciences

W.S. Cooper Award
1992: Ecological Society of America

1992: National Academy of Sciences

Marine Fellow
1990: Pew Fellows Program in Conservation and the Environment


National Science Foundation
Ecosystem Studies Panel

NRC Board on Global Change


  • Asner, G.P., and P.M. Vitousek. 2005. Remote analysis of biological invasion and biogeochemical change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102:4383-4386
  • Porder, S.J., P.M. Vitousek, and G. Asner. 2005. Ground-based and remotely-sensed nutrient availability across a tropical landscape. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102:10909-10912
  • Kirch, P.V., A.S. Hartshorn, O.A. Chadwick, P.M. Vitousek, D.R. Sherrod, J. Coil, L. Holm, and W.D. Sharp. 2004. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 101:9936-9941
  • Vitousek, P.M. 2004. Nutrient Cycling and Limitation: Hawai'i as a Model System. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ
  • Vitousek, P.M., T.L. Ladefoged, P.V. Kirch, A.S. Hartshorn, M.W. Graves, S.C. Hotchkiss, S. Tuljapurkar, and O.A. Chadwick. 2004. Agriculture, soils, and society in precontact Hawai'i. Science 304:1665-1669
  • Hedin, L.O., P.M. Vitousek, and P.A. Matson. 2003. Pathways and implications of nutrient losses during four million years of tropical forest ecosystem development. Ecology 84:2231-2255
  • Benning, T., D. LaPoint, C. Atkinson, and P.M. Vitousek. 2002. Interactions of climate change with biological invasions and land use in the Hawaiian Islands: Modeling the fate of endemic birds using a geographic information system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 99:14246-14249
  • Vitousek, P.M., and S.E. Hobbie. 2000. The control of heterotrophic nitrogen fixation in decomposing litter. Ecology 81:2366-2376
  • Chadwick, O.A., L.A. Derry, P.M. Vitousek, B.J. Huebert, and L.O. Hedin. 1999. Changing sources of nutrients during four million years of ecosystem development. Nature 397:491-497
  • Vitousek, P.M., and C.B. Field. 1999. Ecosystem constraints to symbiotic nitrogen fixers: a simple model and its implications. Biogeochemistry 46:179-202
  • Vitousek, P.M., C.M. D'Antonio, L.L. Loope, M. Rejmanek, and R. Westbrooks. 1997. Introduced species: a significant component of human-caused global change. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 21:1-16. Also in "News and Views," Nature 388: 627-62
  • Vitousek, P.M., H.A. Mooney, J. Lubchenco, and J.M. Melillo. 1997. Human domination of Earth's ecosystems. Science 277:494-499
  • Vitousek, P.M., J.D. Aber, R.W. Howarth, G.E. Likens, P.A. Matson, D.W. Schindler, W.H. Schlesinger, and D. Tilman. 1997. Human alteration of the global nitrogen cycle: sources and consequences. Ecological Applications 7:737-750
  • Crews, T.E., K. Kitayama and P.M. Vitousek. 1995. Changes in soil phosphorus fractions and ecosystem dynamics across a long chronosequence in Hawaii. Ecology 76(5): 1407
  • Aplet, G.H. and P.M. Vitousek. 1994. An age-altitude matrix analysis of Hawaiian rain-forest succession. The Journal of Ecology 82(1): 137
  • Vitousek, P.M. 1994. Beyond global warming: Ecology and global change. Ecology 75(7): 1861-1876
  • D'Antonio, C.M. and P.M. Vitousek. 1992. Biological invasions by exotic grasses, the grass/fire cycle. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 23:63
  • Ehrlich, P.R., G.C. Daily, A.H. Ehrlich, P.A. Matson, and P.M. Vitousek. 1989. Global change and carrying capacity: Implications for life on Earth. In: Global Change and Our Common Future (R.S. DeFries and T.F. Malone eds.). National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., p. 19-27
  • Vitousek, P.M. and L.R. Walker. 1989. Biological invasion by Myrica faya. In: Hawaii: plant demography, nitrogen fixation, and ecosystem effects. Ecological Monographs 59:247-265
  • Vitousek, P.M. 1988. Diversity and biological invasions of oceanic islands. In: BioDiversity (E.O. Wilson ed.). National Academy Press, p. 181-189